Updated Jan 25, 2023 - Politics & Policy

GOP opposition to kicking Dems off committees grows

Rep. Victoria Spartz, wearing a blue dress, surrounded by colleagues in the House chamber.

Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

Another member of the House Republican conference, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), said Tuesday she opposes Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) plan to strip committee assignments from several House Democrats.

Why it matters: Her comments put an expected vote to kick Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the Foreign Affairs Committee in serious jeopardy as Republicans, with their narrow majority, can only afford to lose a handful of votes.

  • That vote could come as soon as this week: House Democrats’ steering committee is meeting Tuesday evening to recommend committee assignments.
  • Compounding matters for Republicans is that Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) has said he will be out of D.C. for “several weeks” as he recovers from injuries sustained from falling off a ladder.

Driving the news: Spartz, in a statement, cited her votes in 2021 against kicking Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) off their committees.

  • “Two wrongs do not make a right. Speaker Pelosi took unprecedented actions last Congress to remove Reps. Greene and Gosar from their committees without proper due process," she said.
  • “As I spoke against it on the House floor two years ago, I will not support this charade again."
  • Her statement also applied to McCarthy's plan to kick Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) off of the House Intelligence Committee as well, but McCarthy can do that unilaterally without a House vote.

What we're hearing: Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio), the chair of the moderate Republican Governance Group, told Axios on Tuesday that Omar "should at least be given the opportunity to defend her prior statements" on the House floor.

  • "I haven't taken a position on it because I haven't seen a case against her, but I think she's entitled to due process and she should be able to make her case on why she shouldn't be [removed]."

The backdrop: Spartz joins Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who told Axios in December, "I’m not going to support it."

  • Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) also told Axios at the time, “I’ve never been a fan of that. Members are elected by their districts. ... To throw them off just seems inappropriate.”

The other side: Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.), who represents a Biden district but also has many Jewish constituents, told Axios last month he supports booting Omar.

  • "Somebody like Ilhan Omar should not be serving on Foreign Affairs, especially with her stated positions with respect to the state of Israel. So I would absolutely vote to remove her," he said in a phone interview.
  • Two other freshmen in Biden districts, Reps. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) and Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.), said they support kicking her off as well.

What caught our eye: Spartz also issued a broader rebuke of McCarthy's governance, stating: "Speaker McCarthy needs to stop 'bread and circuses' in Congress and start governing for a change.”

  • She has proven increasingly independent in her second term, voting "present" on several ballots during the speaker election earlier this month and denying McCarthy a crucial vote before eventually flipping back to voting for him.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further details, including comment from Rep. David Joyce.

Go deeper